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2014 Honda Accord Hybrid's mpg is far below target

Power-source shifts are quiet and unobtrusive, but gas mileage doesn’t wow testers

Published: February 21, 2014 03:19 PM

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The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is the hybrid Honda should have built from the beginning. It’s the company’s first full hybrid that can run on electricity alone for short distances without using its gas engine. That maximizes efficiency.

It also makes it possible to build a plug-in hybrid version, which Honda rolled out in California and Oregon last year, ahead of the launch of the standard hybrid.

Now that the mainstream Hybrid is on sale nationwide, we’ve bought one to test, and had a chance to collect some initial impressions. It took us several weeks to find one. Accord Hybrids, it seems, are not out there in abundance and are more likely to be found at major metro area dealers.

So far, we’re impressed with the hybrid system, which uses a single electric motor to power the car under most circumstances, and a gas engine that clutches in to provide direct mechanical power at higher speeds. In between, the gas engine runs to provide electricity to the motor. This eliminates the need for any conventional transmission.

Transitions from gas to electric power and back are virtually imperceptible. We’ve been able to hit speeds of up to 40 mph before the gas engine needs to start. Even at speeds up to 75 mph, the car will shut off the engine while coasting. And it’s easy to refill the battery quickly under such conditions by barely resting your foot on the brake pedal.

In initial drives, we also found the Hybrid quieter than the standard four-cylinder Accord, because the engine doesn’t have to rev as much. With standard 17-inch tires, we found the handling fairly nimble, though the ride was somewhat choppy.

But hybrids are all about gas mileage, right? And on that front, the Accord Hybrid seems to fall short so far. We couldn’t get near its 47 mpg EPA rating on a long highway commute, and the trip computer confusingly displays three different mileage readings and is hard to reset.

We paid $29,945 for our base Accord Hybrid. That’s a $6,700 jump from the $23,260 we paid for the four-cylinder Accord LX we tested last year. And that car got an already impressive 30 mpg. If the Hybrid’s gas mileage doesn’t get a lot better, the standard four-cylinder Accord is going to be a tough act to follow.

—Eric Evarts

   

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